Critic Reviews



Based on 33 critic reviews provided by
It’s an overpowering world of steampunk delights, almost Miyazakian in its presentation. It’s hard to complain about a path being well-worn when all the sights will make your eyes pop.
Unfortunately, there’s not much room left for fleshed-out personalities or narrative depth, making the whiz-bang wonder often feel too empty.
It rips a few too many pages from familiar playbooks, but when it indulges in its own weirdness this film casts off those heavy caterpillar tracks and soars.
Despite all of the film’s retro-future eye candy, it never quite sweeps you out of your seat and transports you someplace new. It’s a squeaky salvage job that could have used a fresh dose of oil to make it hum.
Even at its worst (which is where it often resides), “Mortal Engines” is still a rousing advertisement for the theatrical experience.
In short, it's a long-arc revenge tale fitted out with very elaborate effects, courtesy of Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films, and characters that are moderately decent company but hardly compelling.
There are some lively things about Mortal Engines, and the performances are game enough. Yet in all its effortful steampunkiness, Mortal Engines isn’t a film which is particularly exciting or funny, and the idea of the “traction city” is a stylistic and visual design tic that you just have to take or leave.
Mortal Engines has been thoroughly storyboarded, make no mistake. But here lies the rub – lift-off, personality, and plainly put, direction, aren’t there. All the pieces of the movie slide mechanically into place and wait – and wait – for some spark of soul to turn up and animate them.
The film never captures the bonkers, go-for-broke energy that made the ill-fated likes of “Cloud Atlas” or “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” such enjoyable noble failures, too caught up in hitting the same old blockbuster beats to stop and wonder where the story’s weirder threads might have lead.
Mortal Engines really is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent slog, as characters leap unfeasibly out of planes on to bits of cities while a squad of rebel-fighter pilots straight out of Star Wars buzz around.

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